Notes for July 28th 2023

RIP Sinead O'Connor.

  • Elon killing the Twitter brand in lieu of his beloved single-letter 'X' seems about as misguided as spending $44bn on the thing in the first place. When you consider it, he spent $44bn on Twitter. Not for the employees, since he fired most of them. Not for the tech, since he re-architected it and consistently denigrates the engineering behind it. Not for the brand, since he's removing it from public consciousness now. Not for the advertisers, who are leaving in their droves. And certainly not for the users, who have contributed to "growth" metrics but weirder actual WAU metrics, suggesting the top 5% of users (who generated 80% of usable content) have disappeared or paired back their contributions, being replaced by bots.
    • I doubt Zuck spent $44bn rushing a decent, if not fully fleshed out, competitor in Threads. Same with Jack, who's pushed Bluesky out of the gate as he watched Twitter fall.
    • Moreover, does anyone even want an "everything app"? I think we're pretty happy with different apps or services being great at what they do, and just that. The race to the bottom to do all things to everyone is why companies like Meta or Alphabet have mostly pursued time wasting product ideas that never landed. Or worse, killed off good ideas because the bean-counters don't like them (god rest your soul, Google Reader).\
    • As someone who has been to Asia a bunch of times, these 'everything' apps aren't as ubiquitous as Elon might think. Not everyone takes them, and they tend to want to replace something safer. Like run their own payment rails with wallets on either end instead of plugging into government-backed or virtually ubiquitous rails that are already there (big card networks, local payment methods, etc.). I would posit that Line, the Japanese "everything app", has one really killer feature, and that's a shop that sells plushies of their emoji characters.
  • Work has been stressful. I typically do well in stressful situations. I'm regularly attracted to them. But with a lot of restructuring in the broad organisation around me, I've found myself anxious. There's no real threat to my job security (the company will sail along fine without layoffs & what-not), but my brain is deciding to do that thing where the worst possible scenario is the only possible scenario for me. Maybe it's age and having more at-risk (it's not just me, it's a family now), but this is driving me up the wall.
  • I'm enjoying using Arc browser. But the big bug-bear I have is that it's Chromium under the hood. Which means most web apps and extensions work great. But good old Google has plans for Chromium to stop adblocking and other things that it deems as bad. I'm not sure how this would work in-practise, because most popular Chromium use-cases are browsers wrapping Chromium in privacy tools.

  • Sinead O'Connor died this week, which is tragic. I can't help but think of the mental health battles she's struggled through, and in public, too. The loss of her son a year ago must have been devastating. Rest in power.
  • It might be because I've been cycling a lot more this year (to commute to the office that I decided I want to be in far more often), but I've noticed a genuine uptick in fellow cyclists. But with that, I've also noticed an uptick in maniac driving behaviours. Just yesterday I sailed through a junction, turning left. Lights were moving green to amber. But a driver on the other side who plonked his SUV far too centrally on the yellow box (turning right) felt his bad positioning was immediately my fault. Beeping and screaming from his lowered windows. I'm an adult who's worked in very stressful situations so I just shrugged, but as he pulled up beside me to shout, I noted his wife and some kids in the back. Mortifying for them. Even worse was a few meters up the road when I sailed past him as he sat in more traffic.
    • I would never respond to the lunatic, but if I was more ballsy, I'd tell him to ditch the car and use the savings to get a therapist.
  • Thinking about innovation and innovators, I think the drive to innovate is relatively innate in most people, actually. But innovation curves come as a result of stagnation. Stagnation by Nokia is what drove the iPhone. Stagnation by TV companies is what drove Netflix. If you want to start something new, find the boring thing that looks immovable as an incumbent. Go after that.
  • I've been re-shaping the narrative at work to anyone who's listening (which is very few folks). One thing our reps get wrong is assuming that the customer is leaning into our product as the product, the single-source of truth and the magic wand to innovate with. While we can do all of that, it's unlikely to be the case. So my narrative is that no one buys our platform in a vacuum; something else is going on with a larger project, transformation or adoption of other tech (CRM, ERP, etc.). Our story needs to be a 1+1=3 story. How we can accelerate innovation, bring more to the table than is obvious and frankly get the person who brings us to the table a promotion! Moreover, the story isn't about adoption, migration, etc. from a technology perspective. I think it's about layering our platform into the other things the customer has, inherently making those things better (1+1=3).